Can Arsenal win the league? It’s a question that seems a little less ridiculous today than it did just a few months ago, but can they? Can Arsenal win the league?
Well, of course they can – anyone can, Leicester showed us that a few seasons ago, so I guess the question really should be ‘will Arsenal win the league?’ followed by ‘will Arsenal win the league this season?’
Probably not, not this season at least, but they will be much further up the table than most people expected when Unai Emery took over and lost his first two games.
Of course, most Arsenal fans expected them to lose against City and Chelsea and that it would be representative of nothing, but on the other hand, it was always likely that large parts of the mainstream media would jump to wild conclusions, Paul Merson the most vocal example.
Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool last Saturday caused him to backtrack and admit that he was wrong about Arsenal. He wasn’t alone.
Since then, however, Arsenal have stuttered, dropping a total of six points in their last three league games. They might be unbeaten in 16 matches but they haven’t won in three and won only one of their last five. The post-Leicester optimism that was boosted by the display against Liverpool has certainly started to fade following games against Palace, Wolves and Sporting.
An international break is upon us once again and much will depend on how everybody returns from that. The rest of November should no fear for Arsenal in the way previous dreaded November’s used to bite. There’s just one more league match left this month, and that’s against Bournemouth.
December will tell us much more with the month opening against Tottenham and United, home and away respectively. We finish 2018 with a trip to Anfield in what would be a remarkable game to throw down a marker ahead of 2019, especially as Arsenal haven’t beaten Liverpool in a few seasons.
Unlike Liverpool and Spurs, Arsenal will be under pressure from the start of next season to be in the mix for the title. They won’t get a few seasons like Jurgen Klopp did when he took over nor will he get the unlimited time afforded to every new manager instilled at Tottenham. The better the side do over the course of 18/19, the more expectations will rise and the higher the pressure will build.
Looking back, it seems astounding that this question has even raised its head this season, long-shot that it is. Most of us expected Unai Emery to take far longer to make a difference, and while we certainly still have much work to do as a team, the early signs haven’t just been positive, they’ve been exciting.
For the rest of the season, I think we should just sit back, relax, and enjoy what Emery is building.
Next season, we return to the stress-fest that supporting a team at the top of the table is and I, for one, can’t wait!